For the last three years South Carolina guard Bruce Ellington has also been a member of the football team, and the fact of the matter is that he was pretty good for Steve Spurrier’s program. This season Ellington led the team in receptions (49), resulting in 775 yards and eight receiving touchdowns, and in three seasons his 16 touchdown receptions rank seventh on the school’s all-time list.
With his accomplishments on the football field and a college degree he completed last month, Ellington has decided to forego his final season of football eligibility to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. So what does any of this have to do with the basketball program? The news also means that he won’t be returning to the program as he did after each of the prior two football seasons.
“I would like to thank Coach Spurrier, Coach Horn and Coach Martin for giving me the opportunity to play both football and basketball at South Carolina,” Ellington said in the school release. “I also want to thank all the Gamecock fans and my teammates for the past four years in Columbia. It’s been a great experience and I’ve been truly blessed.”
In three-plus seasons as a basketball player Ellington averaged 11.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game for South Carolina. In three games this season, playing for Frank Martin’s team while the football team was off prior to beginning practices for its bowl game, Ellington averaged 5.7 points and 1.7 assists per game.
Given how young the Gamecocks are it would have been nice to add an experienced voice to the rotation in SEC play. But they’ve played nine of their 12 games without Ellington, and one can’t fault him for pursuing his dream with a college degree in hand.
Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.
Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.
The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.
When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.
Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.
Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.
Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.
The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.
Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.
Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com
A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.
Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.
Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.
The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.
One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.
Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.
That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.